Wiksten’s Jenny Gordy: A Stitch magazine profile

 I just got an email saying that the Fall issue of Stitch is coming off the press soon, and it reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned the profile I wrote for Stitch with Style, the special issue of Stitch that came out in May.

I’d heard that Jenny Gordy of Wiksten fame had moved to Iowa City and pitched a profile to Amber Eden, Stitch’s fantastic and very enthusiastic editor. Though I turned the profile in last fall, Amber thought it would be great for Stitch with Style, which focuses on sewing clothing and accessories, so it wasn’t in print til this May. But the great thing about that is that since the interview Jenny and I have gotten to be friends, which is a lovely outcome! (She was part of my Quilt Market posse in Portland.) So many of my profiles are written from phone interviews, rather than face-to-face talks, and I rarely get to follow up in person.

A quick bit about Jenny: she started by sewing a line of clothing herself—yup, designing clothing and then stitching an average of ten pieces of each style. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy, but she did it quite successfully for several years. Though she still sews and sells occasional pieces, she’s turned her focus to creating a line of patterns to accompany her Tova and Tank tops. (We called them “nearly iconic” in the Stitch story, but at Quilt Market I realized we could have omitted the “nearly.” It seemed that in everyone’s booth there was a Wiksten tank stitched up in their latest fabric line.) Not only do I admire Jenny’s determination in making her business work, but I’ve learned that she’s got a great sense of humor.

At any rate, there are lots of great things in the issue. I, for one, intend to use Jenn Mason’s “A Shirt that Fits…Finally!” article to make adjustments to my Sorbetto top. I am feeling kind of excited about sewing clothing…just need to find a little time to do so. So if you haven’t yet checked out Stitch with Style, now’s the time!

Double-cross Quilt

My 8 small cross blocks

I’ll hold off on sharing my shirt, because it needs some size adjustment (just learned the acronym FBA—full bust adjustment—which is what apparently I need to do to take in the excess under the arms while still making it fit across my chest).

Erick “squaring up” my blocks—a relative term for this quilt

But I’m happy to share the finished quilt top I made for my class with Erick Wolfmeyer at Home Ec. I was having one of those days when my brain just wasn’t firing on all cylinders and Erick helped me out—cutting and ripping.

Emily and her scrap quilt—she’s wearing a skirt stitched from one of the quilt fabrics

We all arrived in class with our 8 small crosses (and a few of us had 9 and had to decide which one to omit). Then it was time to decide on fabrics for the big crosses and how to arrange the 8 small ones. All of this required a lot of shifting and standing back and squinting. But each of us (save one person who had to leave early) finished our tops. It was a great lesson in color and in loosening up, as the quilt’s so wonky. I love how differently they all turned out! And once again Erick was terrific—and even stayed late so we could go home with finished tops.

Maureen and her butterscotch and blue quilt
Lisa and her neutrals—she’s going to make 4 more for a queen-sized quilt

I still feel a little like I’ve made a quilt for a clown (baby), but Erick said it reminded him of the alebrijes I have all over my house, and that made me feel that perhaps I have a consistent (highly colorful) aesthetic.

My finished top

It Never Rains but It Pours

That old saying certainly applies to Iowa City weather just now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the roses as beautiful as they are this year and it suddenly dawned on me that it’s because the climate is mimicking Portland’s (aka The City of Roses) to a tee—cool temps, cloudy skies, and plenty of moisture. This rose was climbing up a trellis at a friend’s home.

But the phrase also applies to my current forays into sewing. I’m still working to finish a many-pieced quilt, but couldn’t resist taking a pair of Home Ec classes. On Saturday I attended the first session of a quilt class taught by Erick Wolfmeyer, about whom I’ve had the opportunity to write a couple of times (here’s one of them). He taught a pattern by a designer whom I was unfamiliar with, but whose work I’m loving—Pam Rocco.

Erick’s got a terrific color sense and having him help sort through our fabrics was fantastic. I somehow had far more fabric than anyone else…now how could that be possible?

Here’s a shot of each of our first blocks—one person’s working in neutrals, one in all prints, one in batiks. Guess what? I’m working in brights. At one point I said I felt like I was making a quilt for a clown. We’ll see how it shakes out. Session two is next Saturday.

On Thursday I took a class in which we made the Colette Sorbetto top. It’s a free, downloadable pattern, but it’s been so long since I made any clothing (especially any that fit, save the bias skirt I made at Home Ec), that I wanted help with that aspect of things. I’ll post more on that next time, but suffice it to say, I’m loving it. Forget cooking, gardening, exercising, and working…Can I please just sew all the time?

Twofer: Baby Sewing Machines

So a few posts ago I mentioned being smitten with a collection of children’s sewing machines that I saw at a quilt show. Out of the blue, I had the chance to bid on one at an auction. There were actually two available, and because I was bidding remotely I decided to bid on both, in the event that I missed the first one I’d still have a chance at the second. Well, lo and behold, I am now the proud owner of  a pair of these cuties.

They came in sturdy cardboard boxes, one with the photo of an elf, the second in a plain box. It seems they were made in the USSR but sold in the Netherlands, as the language on the box and the instructions still with one of them are in Dutch, while the little gold plaque on the front reads (in English) “Made in USSR”. How they work is a mystery to me and I admit that it doesn’t really matter. I haven’t been able to learn anything about them either (except that they must have been made before 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist), but honestly I am just enjoying gazing at them in complete admiration. One will go in my sewing room and the second will be hanging around for just the right moment to either sell or gift it. What worries me is that this could be the start of a bad addiction!